The Man from Cheyenne

A Story of Empowerment and Redemption

I once knew a man in Cheyenne who had everything and thought he was in charge of his life. He had a loving wife, beautiful son, great career, home, cars. Over time he started drinking instead of dealing with issues in his past and present. On good days and bad days he selfishly thought he deserved a drink. His drinking got more excessive, his hangovers progressively worse. He had to take a couple shots, to take the edge off when he got up in the morning. He tried to hide it. His behavior became erratic.

Infidelity became common in his marriage. When there were arguments, he would run to the bar. He left his career citing stress as the cause. His wife rightfully took their son and left him. He blamed her for his own actions. He could not afford to keep the home they purchased, and the bank stepped in with a foreclosure. He moved into a one-bedroom house on an old ranch on the outskirts of town.

He tried to hide his pain with more alcohol. He had never been so alone or sad in his life. He cried hysterically all the time. He was frozen with self-pity.

He got on his knees and prayed to God to ease his pain. He had alienated everyone that had ever loved him for alcohol. He could not keep a job and pawned everything of value to pay rent and buy whiskey. He thought the world would be better off without him and he attempted suicide several times. He hated himself.

He kept it together enough to get a job at a hotel, working the front desk. When customers complained to the owners of the smell of alcohol on his breath, they arranged for him to seek help with Intensive Outpatient (IOP) at Peak Wellness Center. He attended some groups there. He still could not stop drinking. He went to IOP group after drinking vodka and was kicked out and lost his job. He still prayed for strength, but he hated himself.

He had many girlfriends that he met at bars. His girlfriends told him he drank too much. One steady girlfriend tried to help him and gave him rides to detox at the residential treatment facility run by Peak Wellnesses Center upwards of 10 times. He was awarded a 24-hour sobriety coin while at detox. He hated the man staring back at him in the mirror in the detox bathroom. He was so sad and hopeless. He prayed a lot in detox and was introduced to a 12-Step program. It made sense to him, but he could not stop drinking.

He had started getting pulled over by law enforcement after his wife left and received 3 DUI’s fairly quickly. He prayed to God to get him out of jail. He made promises to God that he would stop drinking if he just got out of jail. He broke those promises. He knew one more DUI would be a felony and he was motivated not to go to prison…not to stop drinking, just to stop driving. He sold his car because he did not trust himself.

Having a couple thousand dollars in cash in his pocket from selling his car, he got a taxi to the bar and the liquor store. He proceeded to drink at home until he blacked out. He spilled Jack Daniels on his jeans and put them on the small furnace in the living room of his shack to dry.

When he awoke the next afternoon, his house smelled of smoke. He went into the living room and saw the furnace was black and burned, halfway up the wall was burned, and half of the carpet was burned.

It took him a minute to understand what he was looking at. His jeans were ashes with only the rivets remaining,. All the money from selling his car had burned. There was a circular coin in the ashes. He picked it up. It was the 24-hour sobriety coin he had received from Peak Wellness Center. He could not believe the money was gone. He did not see that the coin was evidence of a miracle. He had lost his job, his car, his license, his rent money. He wanted to die. He hated himself.

Two days passed and he was at a loss as to how to proceed when a car pulled up to his shack. It was two counselors from Peak Wellness Center coming to see if he was dead. They were concerned about him after being kicked out of IOP. They do not make house calls that he is aware of. God sent them. He explained what had happened with the fire and showed them the partially burnt living room. They exclaimed that he should be dead and there is no explanation as to why this fire stopped instead of consuming the house with him in it. They said it was a miracle. They pleaded with the man to let them help him and get him into inpatient treatment in a place called The Life House at VOA in Sheridan. He was scared. He knew he would be dead soon if he did not do something. He agreed to go. He did not know his purpose in life and why he had been spared from death.

Peak Wellness made arrangements for him to go to treatment. They purchased a bus ticket for him, and his ex-wife took him to the bus station. At 42 years old, he had one suitcase of belongings left to his name. He was scared, sad, and had little hope of a better life. He cried and prayed the entire 10-hour bus ride to Sheridan.

When he arrived a little after 10:00pm at The Life House he was greeted by the staff and several clients. They hugged him and welcomed him. They told him he was hand picked by God to be there. The man was taken aback by the friendliness and caring that these strangers showed him. He was guarded, and he thought: Don’t they know that I am unlovable? Don’t they know that I have lost my moral compass? Don’t they know of the terrible things I did to those that loved me? Don’t they know how much I hate myself?

They did not see these things in him. They saw hope and light within him. They told him he was worth saving. They told him he was blessed. They loved him until he could love himself.

While in The Life House the man connected with God and understood his purpose and why he was saved. He has been blessed by the hand of God and is acutely aware of His miracles.

The man was called to work in the very treatment center that saved his life. He was grateful for this opportunity and knew he must share what was freely given to him in order to keep it. Day after day, he showed up. He became teachable and was willing to do whatever he could to help and love others. He tried to learn everything about the treatment process and became adept in the aspects of treatment. A treatment specialist if you will. He shares openly about breaking the bondage of addiction and about how he was saved by God through The Life House at Volunteers of America Northern Rockies.

He learned over the years that the magic of this organizations’ “heart of hope” comes from the leadership at Volunteers of America Northern Rockies. He has had the opportunity to get to know the CEO, Vice President, and Board Members of the company, among others, and has seen the love and compassion in their hearts for helping those struggling in life. He quickly realized this is why the staff loved him until he could love himself: it originates from the top. He has witnessed these people perform incredible miracles. He knows God is working through them.

His passion and gratitude cannot be contained. He is eager to speak about the treatment centers at Volunteers of America Northern Rockies and how they are the best in the nation. He is often called upon to lead tours of the facilities and does so proudly. In January he was honored to lead a tour of The Life House for the CEO and Board Members of Peak Wellness Center. He shared with them how it was Peak Wellness that started his journey toward the light of hope. The man was blessed for the opportunity to thank them for saving him those many years ago, and excited to learn that the organizations that had saved his life, Peak and Volunteers of America, would soon officially join forces to help even more people like him.

In February he was asked if he would be willing to go to Cheyenne to help at Peak Wellness, specifically the residential treatment facility, with their transition to becoming part of Volunteers of America Northern Rockies. Incredible. Evidence of another miracle to be sure. The man was nervous to return to the beginning of his journey. He remembers the darkness in his life while there. Emotions, feelings, and memories came flooding back as he worried: Can I live up to the task? Can I stay strong? Can I do God’s work? Can I represent the excellence that is Volunteers of America Northern Rockies?

Upon arrival the man was quiet and reserved. The building was just as he remembered it, though brighter this time around. He made a deliberate point to spend time alone in the very detox room where he had spent so may hopeless and sorrowful days. He remembered how nice the staff were to him there. He went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He cried. His heart and mind raced, and he remembered the broken soul that had once looked back at him in this very mirror. The man standing in front of him now had hope for the future, light in his eyes, and was bathed in God’s love. This is to him the definition of divine intervention. He had come full circle. A walking miracle.

The man got to work sharing his love of God, sobriety, and the treatment methods that brought him to this place in his life. People at Peak Wellness Center understandably feared change. He reassured them that he had witnessed Volunteers of America Northern Rockies do amazing things and that they were on the cusp of greatness with this merger. His passion is infectious. His optimism is infectious.

He is now blessed to be able to travel to Cheyenne several times a month to assist the staff there with any needs they may have and tries to lead by example. He also travels to Riverton to Center of Hope to support them. Not bad for an old drunk. Thank you, God, and Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, for not giving up on him. His family thanks you for giving them back their father, son, brother, husband. He is a productive member of society now.

He loves others and has a deep compassion for helping those lost souls that he was once a part of. He tries to bring hope and light to broken hearts. He knows the darkness of addiction. He chooses the light of God.

This man is now blessed with a beautiful loving wife that shares his passion to help others and is also in recovery. He owns a house in the most beautiful city in the most beautiful state and is proud to work for the best organization in the country. He is the epitome of blessed. His heart is grateful, happy, full of God’s love, and he no longer hates himself.

That man is me …

Mike Lash
Patient Engagement Specialist
Former Client of VOA and PWC

Thank you, Peak Wellness Center and Volunteers of America.

I owe you my life.